National recognition for Blackpool obesity project

A project aimed at reducing obesity in one of Blackpool’s most deprived areas is receiving national acclaim – with Prime Minister Boris Johnson also keen to learn more.

Complete Care in the Community was launched earlier this year by the Blackpool Central West Primary Care Network, a partnership of GP practices in the town centre, with the aim of tackling obesity and improving the lives of local people.

The Network has invited more than 3,000 people who are on the obesity register for a health check to discuss their overall health and lifestyle. Patients are then given ongoing support from a social prescriber who can work with them on healthier lifestyle choices or signposting to various community groups or activities.

The team responsible for the project was invited to make a presentation at the Best Practice Show – which showcases best practice in primary care – at Birmingham NEC while primary care network lead Luan Stewart has been asked to take part in a round table event to be attended by the Prime Minister.

Mrs Stewart said: “There are 33,000 patients across the four GP practices in Central West and around 10 per cent of those are clinically obese. This increases the risk of those people developing serious health conditions and decreases life expectancy by almost a decade.

“According to figures from a study by Blackpool Council, reducing the prevalence of obesity by just one per cent would save £300million across the national health and social care budget.

“It’s so important we look to address these issues and we hope we can inspire other areas to do the same.

“There are many different groups working to support people to lose weight and increase exercise in Blackpool. Through this project we aim to increase accessibility and availability of these groups for our population.

“We look to work on the root cause of the issues causing obesity, to naturally enhance and improve the quality of life of the patient, improving their overall health and giving them an opportunity to access appropriate services.”

Kate Ballout, one of the social prescribers working on the project, said: “I have had fantastic feedback from patients. One patient told me how thankful she was that I referred her to Blackpool FC Community Trust for the weight management programme and for the help she had received in managing eating due to her emotions.

“Another patient was delighted to be told about a local singing group and emailed me soon after our session to say he had signed up.

“I even had a patient in tears who really felt she couldn’t do anything at all, had lost all confidence, but now she is telling me she has made several changes, is going on walks after work and attending weight management classes.”

Picture caption: Members of the Complete Care team at the Best Practice event in Birmingham. From left: Monica France, Luan Stewart, Peter Scadding, Chris Davies, Sarah Mullen and Kate Ballout